Eclamptic encephalopathy: imaging and pathogenetic considerations

Acta Neurol Scand. 1997 Nov;96(5):277-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0404.1997.tb00284.x.


Eclampsia is a rare condition peculiar to pregnant and puerperal women, characterized by clinical pre-eclampsia (hypertension, proteinuria, edema) and generalized seizures. Three cases of eclamptic encephalopathy are reported: CT and MRI demonstrated transient abnormalities in the cortical and subcortical regions of the posterior areas of the brain - namely, parieto-occipital lobes - associated with occasional involvement of basal ganglia and/or brainstem. Pathogenesis is still unclear. Strict similarity with the pathological findings characterizing hypertensive encephalopathy suggests that a focal impairment in cerebral autoregulation may be the cause of vasodilation and fluid extravasation leading to hydrostatic edema; selective involvement of posterior areas could be explained by their lesser degree of adrenergic innervation supporting circulatory autoregulation mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / physiology
  • Brain Edema / diagnosis*
  • Brain Edema / physiopathology
  • Cerebral Cortex / blood supply
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology
  • Eclampsia / diagnosis*
  • Eclampsia / physiopathology
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Homeostasis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Pregnancy
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Vasodilation / physiology